The Coronavirus has brought a lot of challenges for businesses around the world. These challenges in many cases will have resulted in business owners having less work to do. However this quiet time does not have to be about sitting and waiting until things get back to normal. It can be a great opportunity to reflect, build and improve your business. A time of preparation for a new beginning. Here are some useful tips to help your business as well as encouraging you to keep positive and productive!
I’ve organised these tips into 8 categories, plan, organise, write, research, connect, review, opportunities and give.
If you haven’t already, draw up a plan for social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. can all be useful tools in helping to promote your business and the services and/or products you offer. As well as the direct impact, they can also have a positive effect on your website’s Google rankings, as long as you remember to link your accounts to your website! If you don’t have accounts for the main social media platforms, then now is a great time to create accounts and start building your social media presence.
Once you have set up accounts, make sure your profile images are in keeping with your branding. If you are not sure and need help, contact your graphic designer for advice. They should be able to advise you as to what you will need and, if necessary, create professional profile images for you. Once you are all set up and looking good, you can start to write a plan.
Think about how much time you are going to have to devote to posting and sharing on social media. Whilst regular posts are great, too many might be annoying and you don’t want to lose followers! You also want to set yourself up to succeed and stick to your plan, so be realistic! Once you’ve drawn up a timetable, work out which platforms you want to share on. You may decide to share the same story or message throughout all your accounts or you may prefer to vary the message according to the platform. Many businesses will share something every day but depending on your line of work you might find it difficult to come up with something each day. You might find, once a week more manageable.
Planning what you are actually going to share can be extremely helpful. When work is busy, you might not have the headspace to think about what to tweet or have time to find a photo of a product you want to promote on Facebook. If you decide now, you can collect the information, photos etc. making the whole process during a busy period much easier and quicker. However, having flexibility is important and it is advisable to ensure content is fresh. This means it is not always possible to fully prepare, so you will need to ensure you have the time to keep up with your plan.
If you decide to share something once a week, then having a set day might be easier to manage. If you want to share more often, then you could introduce themes for each day such as a promotion on a Monday and a testimonial on a Tuesday. Having a pattern and/or a plan will help you to keep up with posting and sharing.
Having a plan in place for 12 months is a great habit to get in to. If you know which time of year is your quietest, then you could have it starting in that month. This will mean you can then draw up another 12 month plan again, when things are a little quieter. Have a simple tick box system so you can keep track of when messages and shares have gone live.
Design and Print
Now is a good time think about any future design and print jobs that you might need. Do you have any plans to visit trade shows or attend a networking meeting after lockdown? Have a think about what you will need and check your current stock to see if you need to re-order any of your marketing materials. Don’t forget other admin printing such as NCR sets or letterheads. If you do have future events planned, mark on your calendar when things need to go to print to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
Is there a leaflet or brochure that you wanted to produce? Use this time to collect quotes from designers and printers. If you are in need of any design and print work, then now would be a good time to place an order, as many designers and printers will be quieter during this period.
Think about any seasonal promotions you could run and start to plan what design and print marketing you will need to have in place and when for. Discuss options and ideas with your designer. When things pick up again you might not have the time to think about promotions, so seize this moment to be prepared for future marketing opportunities.
Organising the files on your computer might not be one of your favourite jobs but further down the line you’ll be glad you did! Look at the files you have and organise them into categories. For example, admin, marketing, branding, product photographs etc. Re-name files if necessary so you know exactly what things are and where to find them. Delete any duplicate files or things you don’t need. Don’t forget to also organise any shared files on cloud storage. If you don’t have any cloud storage, then now might be a good time to look into the services available.
Also, check out your emails and set up a system to file emails. This will de-clutter your inbox and having an easy filing system will not only help you to keep your inbox tidy but should enable you to access emails more easily.
How tidy is your desk or workspace? Could it do with a spring clean? Are there filing cabinets and supply drawers that could do with a clear out? There is research to say that there are psychological benefits to having a clean and tidy workspace, such as increased productivity and improved focus. Having a tidy workspace is also said to help reduce levels of stress which is important during this challenging time.
We work with many different businesses on a wide variety of different projects and the writing of content is very often the sticking point for many people. It’s the last job they want to do and yet it is essential for many marketing projects, such as brochures or websites. Therefore using this time to complete content writing will be using your time wisely.
Decide what text you need and plan what you want to write. If you decide to hire a professional copywriter then now would be great time to do some research and obtain quotes. Find out what they would need from you before they can get started.
If you already have content written, re-read and check if you think things need freshening up or terms updating.
Start a blog
Blog writing is not for everyone or suitable for every business but a blog offers great opportunities. It’s an avenue to share your knowledge and stories and can be of great benefit for your clients and potential customers. An up to date blog has great benefits for search engine optimisation as well. Google loves fresh content that is useful and answers people’s queries.
Blog posts provide content for your social media marketing. They also open other avenues to share content, such as Quora, a site for asking and answering questions. Sharing your expert advice can instil confidence in potential clients and can therefore help boost sales.
When you start out in business you most likely researched other businesses in your field to find out what they were doing. Once your business is up and running it is easy to then forget to keep checking back to find out what the competition are up to.
Look into their prices and compare them with yours. Did you set out to offer competitive prices or aim for a higher niche of the market? Are you still on target or do you need to make price amendments?
How are they marketing their business? Are there any opportunities for you to increase your marketing avenues?
How does your branding sit within your market? Have any competitors updated or changed their branding? Does your logo need updating?
How does your website perform in relation to your competitors websites? Also look at how your website currently looks in comparison to others. Potential clients are likely to be comparing your websites without realising and drawing conclusions which will affect who they choose to go with.
Clients and customers
Now is good time to say hello to your clients/customers. Either by an email newsletter or a phone call. Please note, you need to ensure you comply with GDPR rules regarding making contact with clients. If they haven’t done so already, you could ask them to provide a testimonial for you. Any testimonials you collect can then be added to your website and used in any future marketing materials. If you work B2B then most businesses would welcome a friendly hello and any help or tips you can offer during this time. You might also find it helpful to have these conversations with clients if you are not used to working at home on your own.
There are a number of different online communities that have been developed since the Coronavirus. For example there are virtual markets and trade shows which enable those businesses who would usually attend these events to continue to promote and sell. Look into any potential options for your business in case there are any new avenues that have sprung up on the back of this lockdown period.
You may also find communities which have been around for a while which you have overlooked. These could be a great support and means to network during this time.
There are three areas you could look at with regards your website:
SEO – How well is your website ranking with Google? Look into any improvements that could be made to your website to help boost your site’s rankings. Discuss these options with the person that deals with your website’s SEO.
Artwork – Could web banners, graphics, icons or photographs be improved upon or updated? Are things looking a little tired? Look into options and costs with your web designer about how to freshen your website up. A few tweaks here and then can make all the difference.
Updates – If you have a site built with WordPress, check with your website designer that plugins and themes are up to date and working correctly.
If you have a system that records enquiries, quotes and jobs, then you should be able to look into those quotes which never resulted in work. Do you know the reasons why they didn’t go ahead? Are there any re-occurring themes which highlight areas that need improvement?
Products and services
Have a look to see which products and services are doing well and which ones are not. Have a think about why certain products and services are not selling so well. Do you need to make any changes?
Go over your accounts for the year and see if you have any quiet periods. Is there a pattern with previous years? Think about any solutions to revive these times and boost your income.
Look into your outgoings and see if there are any ways for you to save money? Discuss any options with your accountant.
This time can be a great opportunity to think about the future of your business. Is there a service which you have always wanted to be able to offer or a product line you might like to add? Sometimes expanding your business can take time, which, at the moment, many businesses have!
Is there another business you could partner with, a business which offers something your customers might be interested in? Many businesses would welcome the support and opportunity to connect with another business.
Is there a networking group you might like to join once things get back to normal? You could research opportunities to network and promote your business face to face with people. Some networking groups might already be set up to work remotely and have online opportunities you can access now.
You could look into opportunities to market your business at events such as trade-shows or festivals. You could research costs, locations and dates and contact other businesses about their experiences.
During this time many charities are seeing a decrease in donations. It’s a difficult time for many people and many businesses are under huge financial strain. However it’s important to remember that the act of giving doesn’t necessarily need to be about the gift of money. There are other ways in which your business could support a charity and make a difference. You might be able to offer your expertise, time or services. If you do feel able to financially, then you could offer a discount to key workers or give a percentage of your profits to a charity.
Every act of giving, however small will make a difference. There are also great opportunities in the longer term through supporting charities and connecting with those in need. It can help root your business within the local community and you can become an example for others to follow.
Having read all of these ideas, I hope they have inspired you to take this time to improve and build on the success of your business. There are certainly plenty of helpful things to do to fill the spare time you might suddenly have. See this time as a great opportunity and a time of preparation for the future. All too often as business owners we forget the important things or ignore the jobs we hate! Now is the time to clear that inbox, reflect on the year that’s been and get excited about the months ahead!
am:pm graphics is a graphic design partnership based in Buxton, Derbyshire. We offer a range of quality, affordable graphic design solutions for print and web, helping our customers achieve a consistent professional identity across a variety of media.